MATTA: Govt should order credit, leasing companies to freeze repayments by bus operators struggling with RM3b debt

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 15): The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is calling for the government to order credit and leasing companies to extend loan moratoriums to bus operators.

“It has been more than six months that the tourism industry, in particular the coach operators, have been highlighting this issue, yet to-date no proactive action has been seen taken to tackle this serious issue,” said MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang (pictured) in a statement today.

“It is ironic that despite being in the business of lending and leasing, credit and leasing, companies are not regulated under Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM),” he added.

Citing a media report, MATTA said about 10,000 bus operators are currently owing up to RM3 billion of debt in total, adding that bus operators have had no business since March and yet, they are still required to make repayments to the credit and leasing companies.

“It is high time for the government to regulate these credit and leasing companies under the provisions of the Financial Services Act or other relevant legislation,” said Tan.

Tan said MATTA has received some reports from its members that these companies have insisted on not extending moratoriums, despite being aware of the dire and desperate situation of the tourism industry.

In the last eight months of facing the Covid-19 pandemic, Tan stressed that the tourism vehicles stood idle, with no movement or revenue.

Additionally, Tan said MATTA also requests the government to consider appropriate and necessary action to ensure that the actions of credit and leasing finance companies are in line and compatible with the welfare, public interest and good order of the nation during this time of unprecedented crisis.

“None of the relevant ministries directly involved have shown any interest in resolving the predicament of the tourism industry, which up till this pandemic had consistently contributed significantly to the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) and wealth of the nation,” Tan said.

Additionally, he highlighted that Budget 2021 only provided for sales tax exemption for purchase of new coaches, without acknowledging the reality that many coach owners have and will default in repayment obligations.

“MATTA sees no effort and measures in the proposed budget to address these and other industry issues. Failure to address the issues and concerns of the tourism sector will greatly affect the intended tourism restart in the near future in 2021 and may lead some parties to conclude that the government views the industry as dead in 2021,” said Tan.

Edited by Lam Jian Wyn